TouchStones of Compassionate Care

TouchStones of Compassionate Care® is a program that came about following my participation in a “Dear Future Physician” letter writing campaign initiated by a first year medical student as part of her “Reflections in Doctoring” course.  As the parent of a child with chronic and complex medical needs, and as someone who spends a significant amount of time dealing with physicians because of my son’s condition, I took the opportunity to share my thoughts with soon-to-be practicing physicians. The primary message I sought to convey to our future physicians is to always strive to “Allow kindness and compassion to guide you and, above all else, be a physician who cares”.  

After writing the letter, I felt compelled to find a way to extend the message in my letter so that it would reach and impact as many young physicians as possible.  I came up with the idea of having pocket stones engraved with the words Kindness, Compassion and Care, and providing young physicians with one of these stones to carry in the pocket of their white jacket as a tangible symbol and reminder to always strive to provide compassionate care to their patients and their patients’ families.

The TouchStones program has been implemented at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, Children’s Hospital of Orange County and Long Beach Memorial Medical Center.  In addition, the program’s message has been shared with medical students at Vanderbilt Medical School and physicians in training at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.

The letter and pocket stones are intended to be a starting point from which an institution can create its own program to convey the message that KINDESS, COMPASSION and CARE are the touchstones of compassionate patient care.  For example, Children’s Hospital of Orange County created a video using the message in my “Dear Future Physician” letter and is introducing their own video and the pocket stones as a teaching tool for physicians in its hospital. You can see the CHOC-TouchStones video on the left sidebar and below. 

I welcome you to share the “Dear Future Physician” letter (see below) and the pocket stones with the young physicians who come under your training and guidance.  I have also created a video with a recording of myself reading my "Dear Future Physician" letter accompanied by pictures of my son through the years.  The link to the video is on the left sidebar as well as below.  

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions regarding the program or if you would like to place an order for the pocket stones and/or DVD.  I can be reached at 602.677.4056 or willowtreefoundation1@gmail.com.

Thank you.
Ann Schrooten

TouchStones of Compassionate Care® is a program of The Willow Tree Foundation – an organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of parents of medically fragile children.